By Nathan Allen and Michael Gore
MADRID (Reuters) – At least two people died and eight were injured on Wednesday when a building in central Madrid belonging to the Catholic Church was blown apart by an explosion, local authorities said.
One of the injured was in serious condition and transferred to hospital.
A Church official said one church volunteer was missing.
Initial investigations suggested that the blast in Calle Toledo, a street leading out from the city center, had been caused by a gas leak, Mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida said.
Smoke billowed out of the partly collapsed building and rescue workers evacuated elderly people from a nearby nursing home.
The top five floors were totally destroyed, with walls blown out, while the bottom two floors were still mostly intact, but charred in places from the flames.
The building was a complex that provided residential training for priests and also gave meals to homeless people, a neighbor said.
(Reporting by Nathan Allen, Inti Landauro, Belen Carreno, Jesus Aguado, Emma Pinedo, Andrei Khalip; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Kevin Liffey)